There's a mystery playing itself out in Burma at the moment which demonstrates just how fractured the country is. Saturday a week ago, a bomb exploded at a trade fair in Rangoon, killing 11 (well, that was the official figure) and wounding over 100. Like all good mysteries, there are plenty of possible suspects and plenty of possible motives.
The appalling SPDC (State Peace and Development Council, the mob who run the place) were first off the mark and accused Burma's various different ethnic groups of plotting to undermine the state with the bombing. The consequence of this, of course, is that it gives the Burmese junta a handy justification for cracking down on these ethnic groups, as well as categorising them as terrorist with all the implications that go with that. Hmmm, a cute bit of politics, but perhaps the SPDC would have more to gain than the ethnic rebels would.
Then there is the suggestion that the pro-democracy activists were behind it, frustrated at the lack of progress toward democracy and trying to kick-start action. Given the severe crackdowns that any sort of activists face in Burma (check out this post from my recent trip there), it is hard to believe they could gather the resources to carry out such an attack. Again, the mere suggestion gives the government leverage to strike down on its opponents.
Hopefully the outcome of this appalling attack is that the rest of the world will keep a close eye on Burma. Due to the fact that it doens't pose a major threat to its neighbours - only its own citizens have to endure its nastiness - Burma has slipped under the International Radar of Nastiness. Like some of the Middle Eastern states, Burma is rich in natural resources, with minerals being a major export item. For now, it's been able to pay the rest of the world to look the other way whilst its people suffer. But for how much longer?